S.Africa's ex-foreign minister in AU chief bid

21st September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Southern African countries want South Africa's Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to replace Jean Ping as chief of the African Union, an official said Wednesday.

The 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) has agreed to back Dlamini-Zuma, who served as foreign minister for a decade before her ex-husband President Jacob Zuma took office in 2009 and moved her to home affairs.

"All the SADC states have supported a position that our minister of home affairs needs to be recommended to take the position of chairperson of the AU, and South Africa is continuing to take that position forward," Deputy Foreign Minister Marius Fransman said.

"In our engagements with countries in Africa, they are very supportive of the perspective," Fransman told AFP.

"There is a lot of respect for our minister, minister Zuma, on this matter because of her role in the last 15, 20 years in South Africa in the context of foreign affairs."

The AU will vote in January for the chair held since 2008 by Ping of Gabon, who served as foreign minister and is a former president of the United Nations General Assembly.

Fransman said the backing of a candidate from southern Africa did not amount to geographical jostling for power within the bloc.

"It's not necessarily around geo-politicking playing," he said. "It's much more -- we wouldn't have put forward a candidate if it was not a strong candidate as minister Zuma."

© 2011 AFP

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